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Old 08-08-2007, 02:01 PM
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The start to a book I'm writing as a Senior project. Not quite 4 pages, but I'm tired of writing for the day, and dont feel like posting up the unfinished other half of the chapter, and would like to see some constructive criticism on what I have done so far.

Keep in mind that I'm 17. I've taken basic English courses in school, with only a very breif study of latin prefixes, suffixes, and roots. I am in now way shape or form a college scholar, or claim to be. Just a kid who enjoys writing.

Also keep in mind I only wrote this in a couple hours, and was deprived of sleep at the time. If that's even a valid excuse.

*EDIT* I dont know why this forum layout wont let me indent...ugh...

I: Run

One week without rest. He slept four hours a night. His meals were condensed to two a day, with only ten minutes to spare while eating them. The only breaks he managed to retain were those involving certain bodily needs, and the times when he was forced to hide. Neither of which seemed like breaks at all to him. His life had changed in so short a time that he was undergoing a complete mental shock. However, he did not stop running. He did what he knew he had to do to survive. He ran, as fast and as far as he could.
His muscles ached, and his legs tore and burned at him with every step he took. Pains stabbed about him in every imaginable place, as if angry vipers were striking at him constantly. Exhaustion was wearing at him. His eyes grew dark, his face ragged, his body slumped. He more or less dragged himself than ran. Yet, continued forward, never stopping.
Dehydration had settled in. His mouth had been dry for some time. His body was slowly becoming frail, as the increased physical activity drained him of every once of water he consumed. He was at the point where he felt as if he might just die from running. If he stopped though, he knew his fate would be much worse.
Felix blinked, running his hand over his face, only a fraction of a second before a leafy branch whipped at his face, stinging his cheek. It left a small mark, masked by the hundreds of others like it. His face was red, cut, and bleeding. The skin on his left temple, just above his brow was rubbed raw. A mixture of dirt, blood, and unburned power from explosives covered his face. His clothing was much the same, torn in many places revealing scrapes and bruises that covered him from head to foot.
All of those action movies he watched a child, all of those war movies, the survival movies, everything, flashed before his eyes. He looked like a madman out of the latest box-office hit. He knew he was no John Rambo though. He only wished he could maintain the same poise of importance and heroics that they portrayed. Instead, what drove him and tugged at his heart was fear. An absolute, undeniable terror that hit his chest every time he thought about it, and made him lose his breathe. It was not just being scared, having the creeping sense one would have watching a scary tale on the television. This was one of utter horror, one that could drive most people insane upon the instant of its realization. If he did not stop running, he was going to die.
Sunlight began to wash through the leaves in front of him. He hadn't even realized he had been running blindly through such a thick forest. Hundreds of green appendages slapped off him as he ripped a path through the thick foliage. Color was returning to his world with each passing moment. The bushes went from a dark gray to blue, to finally a dull green. Mist washed away as the heat from the rising sun pushed it from the ground as if it was an unwanted visitor. The leaves shown a vivid green now, and with the first streaks of the suns rays poured over everything in front of him, glistening off the morning dew.
The dew felt good against his face. He'd been at it all night, and was flaming with the heat of exercise. His clothing was soaked to the point where it steamed off him when he stood in the direct path of the sun. Soon the dew became much more scarce as the forest thinned. Trees became fewer between, and the ground turned from the leafy dirt he had gotten used to into a much more pleasing, much softer grass.
Felix emerged from one last bush that seemed to form a barrier around the forest, and found himself in a clearing the size of a football field. A small stream trickled nearby into a pond full of fresh, clear, and most of all, inviting water. He dove for it, submerging his head into the cool liquid. He took large gulps, not thinking twice of inhaling every ounce of water he could bring to his lips.
When he was satisfied, he pulled his head from the water and sat back, propping himself up with his arms. They hurt to support his bodies weight, which suddenly seemed to have gotten immensely heavier. He examined his arms, and noticed they too were raw and bleeding. Gashes ran up and down his arms. The dried blood from the wounds covered the assorted abrasions and bruises that made up his entire physique. He plunged his arms in the water and scrubbed off the grim that had accumulated upon him.
He then decided it better to just strip and hop in the pond. He pulled his tattered shirt in with him and scrubbed himself clean. He was running for his life, but it did not mean he had to lose all civility. Aware that he was wasting time with such vain needs though, he made his venture in personal hygiene a quick on, and hoped back out of the pond the moment he was done.
Feeling refreshed, he tended to his wounds. At his hip sat a small satchel of supplies. He had managed to grab just a few things before he was forced to flee. Inside it sat a small first aid kit, hidden amongst other medical supplies and survival tools. He grasped the case and set it on the ground next to him, popping open the lid to peruse its contents. He grabbed a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and dumped it over the deeper, more serious wounds. It fizzed as it killed any bacteria that he may have picked up. He recapped the bottle, and put it back in the kit.
He reached for the gauze and began wrapping areas of his body. Some of the gauze had been permanently stained from other wounds he sustained earlier in the week. He did not bother to clean it though. The two of the deeper cuts on his left bicep were covered with a small piece of gauze, and another on his right forearm was covered without using very much. He reserved the larger pieces he had left for his abdomen and right thigh.
In his frantic running, he had managed to slightly impale himself upon a branch jutting out from an old hickory tree. It was sharpened from being broken once before, and he ran upon it at just the right angle that it sank deep into the muscle of his abs. It missed anything important, and the bleeding stayed minimal, but it had slowed him down greatly, as the pain was becoming far too unbearable to cope with. He packed some bandages on the hole, and wrapped clothe over his torso to secure it tight.
His thigh was a whole other story. He was making his way up a very steep hill when his foot slipped on a piece of shale. The rocks gave out from under him, and his legs followed suit. His right leg managed to slide over an inconveniently placed stone that tore through his pants and sliced his leg laterally. The combined pain from the two made running feel absolutely hellish, but he was at the point of running himself until he died. More bandages, and the leg was wrapped and ready to go as well.
Felix resealed the lid on the aid kit and hastily crammed it back within the safety of his pack. He rummaged the pack and procured two empty plastic bottles from the side. He popped their caps off with his teeth and sank them deep into the pond water. Bubbles erupted from the mouths of the containers as air escaped, being replaced with fresh water.
The first bottle filled quickly, and he screwed the cap on and placed the bottle back in his bag. The other filled just as he was done tending to the other, and he secured that ones lid as well, letting it nestle beside its plastic brother in his bag, and crinkling a small foil wrapper deep in the bag.
Felix ran his hand over the wrapper. It was the only food he had left. He hadn't thought to grab much food in his hurry to leave, and his foolishness was coming around to bite him. His stomach growled and tormented him, jeering at his ignorance and lack of though. His own body was taunting his every move, as if it did not know how under prepared and hastily he realized his escape had been.
Nevertheless, it was food. If he continued to save it, he would grow too hungry to move, and what he faced if he did not keep running was far worse than starving to death. The wrapper fell to the ground as he tore it from the pastry wrapped inside of it. He did not think twice as he devoured it in a couple bite, washing it down with the fresh water in front of him.
He should be worried that he had no food left, but he was not just going to let what food he had go to waste. His animal instincts were kicking in, and there was nothing that could have stopped him from eating it. He would have to resort to finding food in the wild, lest he be unable to come across any kind of civilization.
Civilization. The word rang out in his head like a bell.
Was anybody still alive? Was there such a thing as civilization? He didn't know anymore. It had all happened so fast, so sudden. Nobody was prepared for it, even those who were supposed to be prepared. There were warnings, oh yes, plenty of warnings. They fell upon deaf ears though, being traded off for other more logical answers that the fools chose to believe in.
What was logic anymore though? Everything thought illogical turned out to far more logical than anyone could have guessed. The result of this was every last person being inadequately prepared. The same people whom had told themselves and the rest of the world that they would be prepared under any circumstances.
The thought wasn't one he wished to think upon any further. It was easy to accept humanities arrogance and blatant stupidity. He had seen it time and time again, and understood all too well just how adept people could be at destroying themselves. It was not the first time. Unfortunately, it was going to be the last.
Felix wiped the crumbs from the corners of his mouth and brushed his hands clean on the lush grass around him. He studied the grass intently. It wasn't the same dry, mottled undergrowth he had trekked over the past week. His climb through the mountains was nothing but rocky terrain and heavy forests, with the only break being sun burnt fields of tall weeds that he had to jump through in order to see ahead of him. The bushes and become tamer, the trees skinnier and younger, and the vegetation was far too thin for his liking. He was finally through the mountains, and into the valley. Only a little bit further until he could find some sort of-...
A loud clack of thunder tore through his thoughts. It was followed by three smaller pops, a pause, then another dozen of the small pops. No, not thunder. Something else.
Felix rose to his feet. His leg and torso refused, and fought back, leaving his body searing with pain. He hefted himself off the ground forcefully, and stood upright, wincing at the pain. He slung he strap the satchel over his shoulder, and re looped his belt through a series of notches he made in the back of the bag, to make completely sure it wouldn't get away from him.
He surveyed the area. The clearing was covered on all sides by trees, all of which seemed to lead to nowhere. The sun was still at his back, meaning he was headed in the right direction. He gave one last look around, and darted through to the trees on the opposite side of the grotto in which he entered.
He pushed through the bushes and shifted his body from side to side to weave his way between trees. He attempted to go faster than just a jog, but the pain in his leg flared again, and he decided that maybe a jog was a good pace to keep. It was better than standing still.
The pops grew louder, and closer between. As he made his way through the forest, he began to hear more background noise. There were other pops too, softer ones, and much more rapid. He heard what he thought was the yell of voices, and the eerie noise of machinery whining close by.
Another thunder shook the forest around him, and not the kind mother nature would throw at him. It was explosions. His pace quickened, and he ignored the burning in his leg. He managed to find himself in exactly the thing he was running from. He wasn't a fighter, he was a survivor. There was no way he was going to let himself get caught up in a war that wasn't his to fight for.
A large log stood across his path. He wasn't going to run around it he decided, so he pushed off on his good leg and jumped the felled tree. He landed on the other side hard, digging his heels into the ground to keep his balance. The shock of the landing sent even more pain reeling up his leg. He could hardly stand now, yet some sick sense of determination drove him to run even further.
He limped now, pulling the dead weight of his right leg with him. It dragged off the leaves and sticks that littered the forest floor. Each scraping step left a trail of his adrenaline fueled journey. Occasionally his foot would catch on a branch and cause him to trip. After each time he inhaled deeply, focusing on doing nothing but moving, and within seconds was back on his feet, trudging his way towards what he hoped was safety.
He didn't even know if it was still there. He was running towards a memory from his childhood. He couldn't have been any older than six years of age at the time, yet he remembered it so vividly. It was one of those experiences that stick with someone throughout their entire life. Not so much the memory of the place itself, but the feeling associated with it.
It had been one of the only times Felix had felt so completely secure in his life. He remembered it had been just after his father died. He still hadn't a clear notion of what death was at the time. Yet, he understood it meant that he was never going to see his father ever again, and it scared him.
At his father's funeral, he watched as everyone cried. They walked up to a small alter in front of a rather large crowd, and all said a few words, before getting teary eyed and forced to make themselves walk away. He remembered his mother especially. She couldn't even make it to the stand. She had fallen to her knees and wailed in the middle of the church. It had been far too hard on her. It had been far too hard on everyone. It was such a sudden incident, so unexplained, that it hit everyone emotionally with the same force as a professional baseball player drilling a ball far out and into the stands.
Felix was forced to stay with his uncle Shane for awhile, just until his mother was capable of raising him without having to fight off depression. Shane was more than a parental figure Felix could ask for. He shared the same care and love towards his nephew the same as his sister had the past six years. He was both a mother and a father to him, and Felix couldn't have been happier.
During the time he spent with his beloved uncle, he learned a lot. Shane was an ex-military turned philosopher. He taught Felix many lessons on life and the things involved with it. He was young, and the concepts didn't stick at the time, but the conversations did. In the years to come after his visit with him, everything he was told began to make sense. He lived his life by waking up every morning and remembering every lesson Shane ever taught him.
Shane had his eccentricities though. He was in the military at a bad time, and the events he witnessed scared him indefinitely. Felix assumed the things he saw and did were what shaped him to become a man of honor and philosophy, in an attempt to salvage his life. Those same eccentricities though had cost Shane a lot, including many friends, and even his own family. He lived alone far out in the country, where he couldn't be bothered.
This is what Felix had remembered so many years ago. Shane had a residence far out in the mountains, across the valleys and plains that connected to the chains of mountains Felix had lived in. At his residence, Shane had stockpiled supplies: food, water, heat, clothing. Why, even a small armament compliments of his military career. All of this stowed away in a labyrinth of tunnels and rooms carved into the base of the mountain. Felix had only been there once, but it was the safest he had ever felt.
He wanted to seek comfort in its walls once again. Many years ago it had been to escape his pains of reality. Today it was to escape death. Today it was because he needed to survive.

Last edited by komodo117; 08-08-2007 at 02:09 PM..
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Old 08-08-2007, 07:26 PM
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*For the indenting issue, I put spaces between the paragraphs to clean up the writing a bit. It can be tedious when transferring it from a program like word where you indent. Actually, now I even put spaces there, too.

This piece works for me. Some good detail and small little hints at what's happened before this scene are well placed. The pace works well even when the character isn't actually running. As far as an opening to the story, I think you've done pretty well here. You've offered a lot, but not enough to allow the reader to tell what's coming next.

The mechanical details are fairly concrete, but there are some little issues that will be overlooked by any spell-check. A thorough read-though, however, will catch these. Here are a couple I found:
The leaves shown a vivid green now, and with the first streaks of the sun's rays poured over
he pulled his head from the water and sat back, propping himself up with his arms. They hurt to support his bodies[body's] weight. Also, this sentence bothers me. Not sure. "They hurt when they supported his body's weight." ?
These are little things you'll easily pick up in your editing.

Shane was an ex-military turned philosopher.
Maybe add a noun here between 'military' and 'turned.' Something like patriot or even something simple like soldier just to round-out the sentence more.

This may just be me, but in the first paragraph when it mentions his meals had been condensed to two a day, it didn't offer enough for the events when he stops in the clearing. There, he only has a small morsel of food left. Maybe you could try adding in the fact that his supply has dwindled in the first paragraph. I know you are talking about his meals, and the time sacrificed for each one, so it may not be needed.

That's basically it. Stories are driven by plot, characters, and setting, and you have all three here, even if there is only 1 (maybe 2) characters. No small feet for such a short glimpse at a start to a larger piece of work.
It's hard to find the moral high-ground when we're all standing in the mud.
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Old 08-09-2007, 12:41 PM
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I love how you stalk me on here. haha. Much obliged though.

To this day...I still get mixed up on " 's". I have no clue why. I've gotten into the habit of associating 's with "is", therefore most of the time I'll end up using a plural as a possessive.
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Old 10-28-2007, 01:50 PM
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An update. The other half of the chapter. I think it's a bit better than the first half, which I may end up rewriting in the future. Enjoy, and give me some CC.

The afternoon sun had perched high above the sky, right in the center of the sky like a brilliant chandelier. It lit the world so perfectly, as if that was it's sole purpose of existence. The heat radiating from it washed over the sea of green, allowing life to flourish.
The same heat was smothering Felix as he bounced from tree to tree, barely capable of standing on his own. He finally gave in to his poor physical nature and rested himself on the trunk of a large oak tree. His hand floated over the buckle on his satchel, and he dug through the bag lazily. His fingers ran over the cold sweating bottle that had been thrown in last, and he brought it out and up to his lips. He threw his head back and downed half of the bottle in a only a few gulps. The cool water ran down his throat and deep into his stomach. He couldn't believe just how good it felt.
He put the bottle back up to his lips to take another drink, and stopped himself. He couldn't drink it all. His luck was incredible in finding such a clear stream earlier. He was going to have to make the water last. He sipped at the bottle daintily, as if his body was trying to suck every last drop of water from it, and his mind was telling it no. He recapped it, slid it back into his bag, and fastened it shut.
He wasn't sure where he was at anymore. Nothing looked familiar to him. He did not see any reason why it would in the first place though. He was completely lost, doing nothing but wandering aimlessly in the general direction in which he knew he should go.
Heading forward seemed to be the best, if not only option there was. He figured if nothing else, he'd stumble upon something that might lead him in the right direction. He just hoped he hadn't made a mistake and was further away from where he needed to go. In which case, he’d be placed in a situation that he almost certainly would not enjoy being in.
His leg had long since stopped aching during his stressful thoughts of gaining some type of bearings. He did not know if it was out of sheer exhaustion, or from the pain pills he slipped earlier to cope with the torture his body had endured. He hesitated in using them, as he only had a few left. They were hastily thrown in his bag, along with everything else in his mother's medicine cabinet. He figured they'd have some use somehow, and he was glad he had enough wits about him to have brought them along.
Felix wished he could have shared the same sense of discretion in bringing some sort of protection with him. At his hip sat a knife that had belonged to his father. It had once been dull, but after it was placed into Felix's care, he had taken the time to meticulously clean and sharpen the five inch blade it to a razor edge. It had stayed sheathed his entire journey, and it’s usefulness had not yet begun to prove itself. Felix didn’t want to force himself to fight, but should the occasion arise, he felt almost as naked with just a knife as he would with bare hands. Still, his hand hovered close to his hip as he progressed through the valley.
He had every right to feel jumpy. He assumed the people looking for him and everyone else were crawling over every surface of the planet by now. It wasn't a question of getting caught, but simply an inquiry as to his time constraints. He knew his luck would run out eventually and he would most likely end up finding himself in a very difficult situation to get out of. If anything, he was going to go out with a bang, but he wasn't going to throw himself in harms way on purpose. He still had a good chance of coming out of this entire ordeal alive.
The thought provoked a series of other questions though. Would he want to survive? Was there going to be anyone left but him? Would the world be worth wanting to stick around in? Would there even be anything left? Surviving seemed like pure instinct, but the more and more he thought about it, the less it seemed like a good idea. The whole point of survival was to live and prosper in life, taking a higher place in society and hoping to improve things. If there was no society though, then what was the point of staying alive? The weight of the entire situation began tugging at the back of his brain like a neural anchor. The prospect of everything he ever knew, everything he ever lived for, disappearing in the blink of an eye, was something he knew that a lesser person wouldn’t be able to handle.
He remembered back in middle school when he went to camp over the summer. His bus was full of happy kids, excited and nervous for the upcoming weeks that they would spend together, hiking, camping out, rock climbing, fishing, and all of the other fun things one would expect from a trip like that. Not even a day in though, half of the kids in his cabin, including himself, got taken home early by scared parents. They couldn’t handle the thought of leaving their children, so young, on their own for just two weeks. How could a race of people that fear in such a way like that hope to survive what was going on now? They couldn’t possibly think that everything was just going to be okay. Such gullibility was what led to the incident in the first place. The arrogance of the society that he had just taken claim to, and admitting to missing was ultimately what flung him into this situation in the first place.
His head swam with thoughts. The fighting he encountered as he left his home, as well as the random outbreaks he passed on his way to where was now filled his mind. They fought to survive, just as much as he ran to survive. It was like two sides of a coin, but both were just as shining as the other, and he could not decide which was the better choice. Sure, he could stay and fight, but would it be out of honor? Would it be out of survival? Would it be out of the false hope that he could possibly make some sort of a difference in something he knew to be absolutely inevitable, so much that he as well as everyone else had given up hope.
The world’s capitols had fallen. From last he heard, the military had fallen. There were no negotiations at all. Every bit of history about conflicts, wars, and revolutions was entirely irrelevant towards this situation. They were going against something that didn’t care about human emotion. They didn’t care about structure of society. All they sought was the territory and location of where this world was located, the resources it produced, and the enslavement of the people living on it. It was, as he very much knew in the pit of his stomach from the moment everything happened, the apocalypse. It was how the world would end.
Yet, fighting seemed like a good idea when he thought about it. Maybe he should lend a hand towards the last bit of resistance this world had to offer. Why not go out with a bang? Just because there was no hope of surviving, or even rebuilding the life he knew did not mean that there wasn’t a reason to still try and take a few with him. The other side of the argument crept back into his head though, and the struggle continued as fierce as ever. Suppose everything turned out to be all right? Suppose that whatever these things were, these “Gamellutes” as they had announced themselves, decided to just up and leave? Why fight when he could survive with as many people left as he could, and attempt to carry out his life in a world that still existed, albeit battered and beaten.
It was a struggle he knew he wasn’t soon going to decide a side on. All he cared about right now was keeping his feet moving, and heading for a safe place. Once he got to Shane’s shelter, he could decide what he wanted to do. If he chose to fight, he would pack up what he needed, and set out to do whatever he could to slow down the fate of the world. If he chose to hide, then he would close the door to the mountain, and never open it again. It was the choice between dying an honorable death, or dying a slow one.
What was right or wrong did not seem to matter right now. His options for either side of the fight were dwindling, and if he didn't make his way out of wherever he was right now, he would not live to fulfill either. Of course, that posed a good question: where was he?
Felix had not realized how far he had walked while thinking about his life's choices. He almost ran right into the yellow sign signifying a curve in the road up ahead. He was taken back, mainly due to his lack of paying attention, but also because he knew he was not entirely lost. His mind hoped with every inch of its existence that it would lead him somewhere of some use. In fact, he didn't care where it led him, just as long as it led him anywhere.
He set foot upon the road, but stopped himself from going any further. He was going to be a walking target if he just began walking an unknown street, in an unknown area. He knew they were tracking everything, looking for every last person on the planet like it was some sort of sadistic form of scavenger hunt. The likelihood of them actually finding a single person in, what Felix would assume to be, such a desolate area though was so far fetched that the very thought of him being noticed, much less caught, seemed almost humorous to him. However, fear and caution overruled his arrogance, and he followed the road by its side, staying hidden amongst the trees.
After an exhausting two hours, he finally reached an abandoned village. It was no more than ten houses, spaced out over a fourth of a mile, with nothing but a small gas station and store at its heart. To him, it was paradise. His eyes filled with the warmth of tears, and his legs throbbed with a new sense of purpose. He pushed himself out of the cover of the trees, and stumbled down the deserted street, towards the gas station. He didn't even care if there were people waiting for him or not. The lure of food, water, and a place to rest over-rode his caution, and he approached the store behind the gas pumps without a care in the world.
His arm flung the door open, and his eyes lit up at the food and other goods placed neatly on racks all over the store. His hands weren't picky. In an instant, he had swept a loaf of bread from it's resting place on a shelf nearby, and tore the bag open, shoving a piece into his mouth. Still clutching the open bag, he wandered over to rack bearing various bags of mixed nuts, and other assorted travel-food. He grabbed handfuls of bags, and pushed his way towards a large refrigerator display full of drinks. He lay his food on the floor and pulled the door open, grabbing a jug of milk from the nearest shelf. He yanked the cap off, and pressed the top of the jug to his lips, and let the fluid flow in on its own. Seconds later he spit it all back out though, and he dropped the jug to the floor, heaving violently. The milk had gone bad, and he only then realized its expiration date. It read the twelfth of May. He knew he had been traveling for a week at the very least, and he had left on the tenth. The added fact of him noticing that all electricity in the building was gone, and the fridge was not serving its purpose for the past seven days did nothing to ease his stomach, as he crashed through stands to get to the back of the store, and locate a restroom.
After regaining his composure, he decided to retry his raid of the small store, only more cautiously. Stepping over his spilled jug of milk, he picked a few bottles of water from the back of the fridge, and a couple of warm cans of soda. He threw them into his pack, saving one to sip on as he made his way around the rest of the store. Scanning over the racks of food, he found one lined with cans and jars of fruit, vegetables, and soups. He hastily threw a few into his pack, keeping sure to take only what he knew would last him.
He forced the lid off a pickle jar, and slid a long spear out from the others resting next to it. The taste reminded him of home, and it somehow made him comfortable to simply stand there and chew on the juicy vegetable. The pickle, along with the bread he had just eaten, was the first thing he had consumed in the past week that wasn't junk food. It didn't make him feel sick, it didn't bring the familiar sugar rush that everything else did. It was substantial, and the feeling that he was actually enjoying real food brought about a sense that maybe he would be alright after all, and that there was a chance that he was going to survive after all.
Carrying the jar of pickle spears with him, he gathered as much food as he could fit into his pack, gave the store one last scan, and saw a rack of newspapers. The date on them was stamped "May 9th". He picked one up and straitened it out in from of him. He set his now half-empty jar on the the other papers, and flipped through the one he was holding with great interest. Everything in it seemed so normal. The front page told of wildfires out west, a tragic, but strangely normal occurrence in what used to be the world. Below that sat the picture of a smiling politician, waving to the crowd at his speech promoting awareness towards hunger in South Africa. The next page showed a local farmer commenting about this years growing season, and at the bottom of the page were multiple announcements of birthdays, local sales, and a few benefit dinners. Felix wondered if the people to whom those events concerned were even alive right now, and whether or not they were missing the apparently excellent stuffing that one of the advertisements boasted about for their community dinner at the fire hall.
It was as if the world had stopped the moment everything happened. The store he stood in was evidence of that. Not a single thing was out of place until he got there. Everyone had simply dropped what they were doing, and society and its events ceased to exist. Until now, it was just the shock of everything actually being gone that had eaten at Felix's mind, but now the realization at how fast everything happened put him into a new state of shock that he couldn't begin to describe to himself. A civilization that had dominated this Earth for tens of thousands of years, a civilization that had become top of the food chain, a civilization that had claimed themselves to be the utmost superior beings, brought to its knees in a single day. No warning. No reasoning. No remorse. One day to turn all that had been into ash, and effectively destroy the world.
Felix knew now what he had to do. It wasn't a matter of survival anymore. It was the preservation of life. Would he want his on children to grow up in a world like this? No. He himself didn't want to be in a world the way it was now, much less submitting a new life into something so desolate, empty, and utterly worthless. Even if things did not return to normal, even if there were no more of those community dinners at the fire hall, or campaigns to stop hunger in third world countries, and all of the other things that graced the headlines each and every day, he knew that anything was better than the world he was in right now.
Before he could admit it to himself that he must fight for what he believed in, something ripped through his thoughts like a knife. Outside the store came the loud, screeching, mechanical roar that pierced through every crack in the building around him. Felix knew the sound all too well, and a wave of absolute terror rippled through his body so that every last hair upon his skin stood on end. They were here. They knew he was here. They were coming for him.
Felix threw the newspaper from his grasp and cinched his pack tightly around his body. He slowly moved his way to the back of the store, as the vibrations of a large aircraft pulsed above him, moving closer and closer to where his stood. When he knew it was directly above him, he pushed open the back door, and slipped outside with a swiftness that was drowned out by the heavy roar of the ship overhead. He craned his neck upward, and got a good look at the thing that terrified him most.
At a first glance, there was nothing outwardly scary, or even remotely dangerous about the large Gamallute ship. It was a sleek aircraft with an oblong shape that reminded Felix of the loaf of bread he had just eaten, only slightly skinnier. Along its port and starboard sides ran two semi-spherical wells that produced a violent greenish glow that left the underside of the craft looking warped. Whether it was from waves of heat, or some unknown gas, Felix did not known, but he didn't care to find out either. He backed away from the store, still giving the ship a thorough inspection as he tried to slip into the woods unnoticed.
Between the bulbous engines that kept the ship hovering, at two large rectangular doors that Felix had never noticed before. He soon figured out why though, as from each door multiple masked and armored figures leaped from the the ship, and glided slowly towards the ground, completely unassisted by any means of rope or individual propulsion. He assumed the effects that the engines gave the ship carried over in allowing its crew to safely hover to the ground. He marveled at the genius of it all, and soon realized he now sat at the edge of the woods, staring open mouthed at the sight in front of him. He ducked through the underbrush, and in a crouched walk, made his way to the front of the gas station to see what had interested them so much.
The large drop ship sealed its doors back up, so that the sides of the ship became completely seamless again, and the engines rotated towards its aft end. The green glow intensified in each engine, and the drop ship gained speed at an alarming rate. The trees and windows of the gas station vibrated viscously and slowly settled again as the ship put a vast distance between itself and its crew.
This did nothing to ease Felix's worry, as he now had to deal with a patrol of at least a dozen foreign soldiers, to which he suspected they were after him. He pushed through more of trees and positioned himself at the side of the building, looking right across the way at the few gas pumps in the front of the store. He watched as four of the soldiers took up point around the sides of the building, with their guns held loosely in their grasp, but ready to be leveled at a moments noticed. Six of the remaining soldiers had formed a small huddle by the gas pump, deliberating amongst themselves in a tongue that Felix had never heard before. It was guttural, but at the same time soft and eloquent, and almost interesting to listen to. The worked croaked and rolled out fluently and precisely, and the another soldier would nod his head and return more of the same dialect. One of the group had taken his attention away from the other five, and the tallest of the bunch barked at him, and he refocused his attention once again to the discussion at hand.
Felix looked over at what the soldier had been distracted by, and saw the last two soldiers cautiously opening the door to the store, and making their way inside, guns drawn at eye level. They disappeared inside, and Felix began examining the closest guard that had taken a position only ten feet from where he sat, hidden by the foliage. His figure was outwardly human, except for the lower section of his face, that seemed to lack a definitive chin. The skin visible held more of a blueish green hue to it then normal flesh color, but at a certain glance it appeared yellow as well. A large, form fitting helmet covered much of his head, including his eyes, and stopped short just above his upper lip, baring a full set of angular teeth, but still covering the sides and back of his head. The teeth weren't much like a humans, as they seemed much sharper and more delicately taken care of, and their alignment was absolutely perfect. The rest of his face was discernible, save for his eyes, that were visible through a small slit in the oval helmet. They were golden. Not light brown, or hazel, but a deep gold that immediately drew attention to themselves whenever they moved.
The rest of his body was quite skeletal, or so Felix thought, until he realized that most of what he was seeing was a very advanced armor. In fact, the figure appeared quite muscular underneath the suit, as in spots that were less armored, he saw the form fitting fabric tighten over a very toned anatomical structure. Upon his shoulders rested large armored pads, which bore emblems of what Felix assumed to be rank and identification. The arms were covered with much of the form fitting, flexible armor that gave the body a skinny malnourished look. His hands were gloved, and bore small checkered patches of knurled spikes on each knuckle. Felix shook the idea out of his head of ever being punched by them, and directed his attention at the bottom half of the guard.
Around his waist sat a belt with a few pouches on the side, but non big enough for the ammunition clip that sat in the large rifle he held in his hand. Felix guessed that either the guns they wielded used a different kind of ammunition than he was used to, or that they simply didn't run out of shots. What intrigued him more though than that was the array of small squares, lining the front of the belt. Random slots were missing, which gave the Felix the impression that they were used for something other than decoration. Perhaps they were some form of computer chip used for hacking into electronic devices? No, that would be impossible. Felix remembered the day they came, they set off an EMP that knocked out every single electronic device on earth.
Below the belt of mysterious chips, he looked over the more heavily armored legs, and at last his eyes fell upon the knee-high boots that were covered in buckles and the excess straps hung out all over the place, which showed Felix that they were too large for the feet that sat in them. They were cleaned, and looked as if they had done little traversing over the soil of the world they had invaded. Felix looked down at his own worn out shoes, that had long since ripped, and were bound together by strings he had found along the way.
Suddenly the doors to the store blasted open and the two guards were speaking at the same time, their gargles, barks, and rolls of tongue tangling about each other and sounding completely indescribable, much like a radio stuck between two stations. The tallest of the patrol raised his hand, and they immediately stopped, standing at full height. Their heads just narrowly missed the top of the door, and Felix figured them both to be around seven feet tall, the leader another half foot taller. He stared at them questioningly, and moved forward into the store, ducking as he passed through the door. Within moments, he poked his head back out, and in an anxious tone, shot out orders to his squad. Immediately the four guards on point shouldered their guns and their eyes began flitting around, taking in every last detail around them. The huddled group had done the same, and a few of them had entered the shop with the others, and Felix heard crashing and more indiscernible yelling.
Had they known he had been there? Did they know he was still nearby? Were they looking for him inside the store? Fear wrenched his chest, and it suddenly became very hard to breathe. His eyes widened, and his legs seemed to not want to move, no matter how much they willed him to. He had to run, they were going to catch him, and quite possibly kill him, or worse.
No sooner did he turn his back to the gas station did the back door fly off its hinges, and an angry roar echoed out from the other side of it. Felix did what he did best. He ran. He pushed off from the tree behind him, and he pushed his legs and pumped his arms faster than he had ever done in his entire life. The thuds of his feet falling upon the ground mixed with the intermittent bursts of gunfire behind him. Projectiles slapped off trees and foliage to his sides, sending splinters and dust everywhere. A few shots whizzed right past his head, forcing him to pull his head down to avoid anymore attempts at his life. He leaped over obstructions in his path, twisted out of the way of trees, and not once did he look back to see just how close they were to him. All he knew was that they were close, and if he didn't keep running, he would die, and he would have no choice of fighting or hiding.
As he ran, the pops from the guns grew more distant and less frequent, until they stopped all together. Eventually Felix found himself at the edge of small creek. He dove across it, and continued a few feet until he saw a small hole in the ground protected by an outcropping rock, and a fallen tree. He ducked under it, and panted. His hand gripped his chest in a futile attempt to stop his heart from bursting through his ribs and running away. It wasn't for awhile until he noticed that his entire body was shaking. His arm shook so violently that he was unable to undo the buckles from his pack to grab a drink. After a few attempts, he gave up, and threw his head back, and gasped for air, trying to calm himself down.
He had just escaped death for the countless time in the past week, and once again, the feeling of being absolutely helpless crept over him. He just wanted to curl up in a ball right there, in the cover of the dirt and brush, and just cry. His eyes squeezed tight, and a few tears slid from them, and his teeth gritted as if in pain. His entire being wanted him to be anywhere but there. He wanted to be back home, in the comfort of his room listening to music and smelling the dinner his mother was cooking for him. He wanted to be with his friends at school, with his team-mates out on the track, even at his town's lame excuse of a community fair. All he wanted was his life back, a life that he knew he was never going to see again.
He cried until the tears stopped coming. His face was dry with a salty film that stretched on his cheeks when he moved his mouth, and his eyes itched with irritation. He wanted to lay there for the rest of the evening, and not move from the comfort of the hole. It was as if he wanted to abandoned all hope, and just wanted to be as helpless as he felt. He lost the ambition to even move, to even want to seek some sort of shelter and try to escape this mess, just for one day. Nothing seemed to really matter much to him anymore.
Then he froze. His breathing stopped. He dared not even blink. He heard the faint, heavy footsteps nearby. It was the same distinct footsteps of a heavily armored boot trudging through an unknown world; cautiously, forcefully, and above all else, scared.
Felix took in the moment. The soldier was being far too cautious. He didn't hold the same bit of aggression his brethren had in trying to find someone. No, he actually took into account his situation, and knew that should there be more than one human hiding in these woods, they could easily overpower him. For the first time, Felix recognized an emotion that he and the creature shared. He knew scared. He knew fear. He knew that he didn't need a group of others to overpower this creature. He didn't need some great ambush. The soldier's fear had already killed him.
Felix felt his hand subconsciously move to his hip. His fingers touched the handle of the knife, and his thumb popped the strap securing it to the sheath in which it rested. He grasped it tightly and pulled it up to his chest. He pulled his knees up, and braced himself in the hole so that could jump out with little effort. He turned the knife around in his hand, so the blade faced the ground and kissed the edge of the log he was bracing himself against. He inhaled deeply, and tried to settle the pounding in his chest. Everything was absolutely silent, save for the footsteps growing closer, slowly, cautiously, and scared, and the rhythmic bass of his heart. He counted the beats, and listened to the boots drawing nearer. Four beats, then a footstep. Four more beats, then another step. He continued counting, and soon the steps were so near that upon stepping on a nearby branch, it kicked up leaves into the hole where Felix sat. Yet he didn't move. His eyes focused right on the spot where the soldier would appear, and he counted the beats to when he knew he would be near.
Twelve more beats, and at last, a boot came near. The excess straps that showed the boot was too large for its wearer dragged against the log that Felix hid under. The sun was setting, and a shadow was cast over the patch of woods in which he lay. He was completely unseen. He was so perfectly hidden, that even the trained eyes of the alien soldier in front of him passed right over Felix's hiding spot. The steps continued, and he passed in the hole.
Felix counted under his breathe. One beat. His hand squeezed the handle of the knife. Two beats. His foot twisted to a comfortable spot to push off from. Three beats. The sweat dripped down the side of his face. Four beats.
Felix sprang from the hole as if he had stolen the legs from a cougar. He pushed himself out from the hole, kicked off the log, and sprang upon the soldier's back. Without uttering a single sound, without even grunting, he rammed the knife right where the armor met the soldier's neck. He pushed hard, and he sang the blade in the whole way to the hilt, and he continued to push even when it would go no further. The soldier opened its mouth to make a noise, only nothing came out, except for a horse cry. A blood much darker than Felix's own filled the defenseless alien's mouth, and trickled out the sides, as he stood there entirely shocked. He made no attempt to thrash about, or even had to will to put up a struggle. He simply fell to the ground, mouth agape, with Felix clinging to his back the whole way down.
Felix knew it was dead the moment it hit the ground. He rolled off the creature's back, and pushed himself back onto his feet, standing over his defeated enemy. Panting, he rolled the soldier over, and with a great deal of strength, pulled the knife out from the alien's neck. It was coated in the thick, almost black blood that dripped from the tip of the knife, and spotted Felix's shoes with color. He bent down, and wiped the knife off on the ground, and re sheathed it. Then without thinking, he stripped the creature of his boots, his belt, and his gun, and began to run through the woods once again to where he needed to be.
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